In addition to our normal news coverage, What Now Atlanta is tracking ways Atlanta’s businesses are adapting to the novel coronavirus and the challenges it brings to brick-and-mortars.
The widespread effects of the novel coronavirus on the restaurant industry has forced many restaurant owners to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. MGK Hospitality owner Takashi Otsuka is no exception.
While both Wagaya locations, in Emory Village and Westside, are available for dine-in, the Westside location has also started selling Japanese snacks and candy bars through its new Wagaya Grocery Store, which is available online. The grocery concept used to operate out of Chirori, but relocated to Westside due to the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Chirori has just started to reopen, offering omakase, where the chef serves a set menu. The $50 omakase meal was available for takeout starting this past weekend and is available for dine-in this week. “It’s an intimate experience with the chef,” Otsuka said.
Experiences are harder to come by since the start of the pandemic. For Otsuka, translating a higher-end restaurant like Chirori into takeout proved more difficult than something more accessible, like Wagaya.
“Some concepts fit takeout and delivery better than others,” he said. “Higher-end is harder because it involves experienced face value. Chirori’s price point was a lot higher in serving omakase, where the server explains about what they drink, what they eat.”
However, Otsuka believes that they can still provide an experience, albeit through takeout.
MGK’s most recent project, Nagomiya in Midtown’s Hanover West Peachtree development, has started construction and is slated to open this fall. Ground broke in early July. Otsuka has changed the layout of the casual Japanese restaurant as a result of the coronavirus, adding a pickup window in the storefront. Even with these changes, Otsuka is concerned that they’ll have to shut down as soon as they open.
“If we’re going to get shut down once again, which is pretty big damage to the business, we might as well just stay quiet for a little while they only take out,” he said. “Then, you know, once things calm down, who knows maybe six months from now or a year out, we’re gonna open back again.”
[Editor’s note: The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is rapidly evolving as is its effect on Atlanta, and the City’s businesses and its residents. Click here for What Now Atlanta’s ongoing coverage of the crisis. For guidance and updates on the pandemic, please visit the C.D.C. website.]